Judgement is a harsh thing, especially when it comes from one who does not have the right to judge. Who in this world is not a sinner? Who in this world is perfect and has the right to judge another?
These are the questions and issues that are posed in this event about the woman who was a sinner. Jesus shows here also that he had the authority to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” and that his approach was one of compassion, not judgement.
The Pharisees Invitation
Jesus was invited to dine with this Pharisee, and he went. While seated at the table the woman who was a sinner heard that Jesus was dining with the Pharisee and came to Jesus.
She wept at Jesus’ feet, washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. She brought a flask of expensive and fragrant ointment and anointed his feet and kissed his feet doing obeisance to the Lord.
The Pharisees Judgement of the Woman who was a Sinner
The Pharisee watched all of this unfold. He did not intervene or stop the woman but he judged both Jesus and the woman. His thoughts were, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” (Verse 39)
Can you perceive the judgement in this? This Pharisee judged the woman calling her a sinner. We do not know what she had done, but it was apparently known to the Pharisee and he was critical and judgemental of the woman. He did not recognise that regardless of what she had done in the past, she was doing a beautiful thing for the Lord, and he had essentially dismissed the woman as a lost cause because of her past. He could not see beyond the fact that she was a sinner and therefore unworthy, worthless and a lost cause.
The Pharisee Judges Jesus
This Pharisee also lacked faith. He judged Jesus saying to himself that if he were a prophet he would know this woman was a sinner. Presumably on that basis he possibly thought that Jesus should have rejected her.
It is evident that the Pharisee was justifying himself rather than seeking what was right in this situation. His opinion was clearly that you don’t have dealings with sinners and that they will somehow taint and stain the righteous.
Certainly if a person takes part in their sins they will be tainted, but how can a sinner be brought to God unless a righteous person deals with them? How could Jesus preach to the sinners without going amongst them?
The position of the Pharisee was that you should separate yourself from sinners and have little to do with them. This is both judgement and prejudice of the worst kind and Jesus showed the Pharisee the errors of his thinking.
Jesus Teaching on the Woman who was a Sinner
Jesus showed that when a person is forgiven much they love much and when they are forgiven little they love little. This is a natural human trait for a person will be much more inclined to favour and love someone who has done a great thing for them than one who does not.
Jesus put this question to the Pharisee and it is evident the Pharisee was no fool for he recognised that a person who was forgiven much would love much more than one who was forgiven little.
Jesus did not judge the woman because she was a sinner, but instead he said, “Your sins are forgiven,” and “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.” (Verses 48-50) She had come to Jesus looking for what good she could find. She had faith and believed in the Lord and the words he was teaching the people. She probably did not come expecting to be forgiven of her sins, but she recognised the Lord for who he was and wanted to do something good for him.
She knew she was a sinner and did not need the Pharisee or anyone else to pass judgement on her for she knew herself. It was because she was a sinner and that she recognised the goodness of Jesus that when she was in his presence she wept. She knew that she was a failure because of her sin, but in her weeping she recognised that failure and came to the Lord repentant as her attitude showed.
The Lord saw this in her and that is why her sins were forgiven. He saw the repentance and the faith this woman had, despite her history and past, and in his righteousness Jesus did not judge her but forgave her.
What this means for us
How often do we see people and look at the surface and condemn them as sinners? It is too easy to dismiss someone as a sinner when instead we could and should look deeper than the surface. Who amongst us is perfect in our own right and therefore in a position to judge and condemn? As Jesus said to those who brought to him the woman caught in adultery, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
We have been called to learn how to be like Jesus. We have been called to learn the ways of righteousness and peace, not judgement and condemnation. The power of the Lord that has been given to us is the power to build up, not to destroy and tear down. We do not have the right to judge others but instead to help them to come to the Lord. Jesus came to call the sinners, not the righteous and if we are self-righteous like the Pharisee in this teaching, we cannot do the work of the Lord for the only true righteousness comes from God.
Judgement, prejudice and bias are not of God. When you are amongst people who are yet to see the light you need to conduct yourself as Christ would have done. And when you are not amongst them, pray for them for the Lord may see fit to have mercy on them and call them to himself. Like the woman who was a sinner, we do not know the heart of other people nor how the Lord is working in their lives.
(Picture sourced from oChristian.com http://clipart.ochristian.com/)